Category Archives: gardening

DIY Patio Railing Planters Part 2 – Herb Pots

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Greetings, dear readers!  I hope this blog post finds you well and happy.  Today I’m sharing the next installation in our DIY patio garden efforts.  In case you missed part one, this is what the patio looked like with the one row of larger planters (below).

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Once we’d gotten the main, large planters in (shared in this post here) hubby figured out a way to add another row of pots for me – smaller ones that I could put herbs in.  Woo hoo!  Again, the constraints were that nothing could be permanently attached to the building, he had to use simple tools on the patio, and couldn’t make much noise.

Materials

One 2″ x 4″ x 8″ board
Fourteen 6″ diameter plastic pots
Galvanized bolts, washers, and nuts (1 bolt, two washers, and one nut per pot)
Two L brackets
Screws
Electric drill

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Our patio is laid out in such a way that there was enough room to lay the new wooden board for the herbs inside the railing and have it supported on the sides by the building/patio walls.  (See far right of the photo above, and the photo below)  Hubby simply laid the board across and made the setup more secure by attaching L brackets to each end of the 2 x 4 – on the inside of the patio.  We wanted to make sure nothing would fall down since the bunnies spend time out on the patio during the day – weather permitting.

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Next, he drilled holes in the wooden board – one hole for each of the fourteen plastic pots that would fit across the board.  You can measure for exact spacing if you’d like, but I believe he chose the “lay the pots out on the board and then trace around them with a pencil” method.

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Next hubby drilled a hole in the bottom center of each plastic pot and attached the hardware that would help attach them to the board.  He put the bolt in from the center of the pot going down out of the bottom, so the bolt would stick out of the bottom and slide into the pre-drilled holes.  This allows the pots to be rearranged, which is super helpful.  The hardware was layered this way: bolt, washer, plastic pot, washer, nut.  Once all the hardware was attached to the pots they were inserted into the board – ready to be filled with soil and plants, and easy to rearrange.

pot

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So, now we have three larger rectangle planters, two pots on either side of those planters (barley visible in the photo below), and fourteen small pots in front.  I hung my often-used tools within arms reach.  My trowel and misting water bottle hang on either end of the row of herbs.  I just used some metal hooks that screwed right into the wood.

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I also added some decorative elements – fun!  I found some galvanized disk ornaments at Michaels and added flowers and a butterfly that I cut out with my Sizzix Big Shot and steel rule dies.  The die cut shapes can be changed out quickly and easily if I decide I want to change the look and feel.  I may change them seasonally – will have to see.

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And though I know what all I have in my little garden, and where everything is located, I made some simple garden markers from bamboo skewers and washi tape.  I may opt for something hardier and more elaborate in the coming weeks and months, but this super simple version is working well for now.

My plants are in varying stages right now.  Some plants were mini plants that were purchased on little flats at the nursery, and some were started from seed.  Some things I’m growing do better when started earlier or later (to avoid the heat), so this is all just experimental at this point.  I’m thrilled anything is alive given the heat we’ve had lately – it’s been in the high 80s or 90s since we got the garden going in early July.  I’ve been watering frequently, and am pleased that the residents of the garden are hanging in there.

The cilantro plants bolted soon after we got them, and sent up flowers.  Many gardeners would get rid of the plants and start new cilantro plants at this point, but since it’s my first time growing cilantro I opted to let them flower so they can go to seed.  Cilantro plants produce coriander seeds, which can be used as an herb in cooking.  It’s pretty cool that the one plant can be used in two different culinary ways. :]

coriander

Flowering cilantro against an overcast August sky…

These nasturtium plants were started from seed.  I love nasturtium plants and flowers, and though they’re pretty they’re also edible!  I’ll likely add some young leaves and flowers to our plates as the plants continue to grow and fill in.  I’ll feed some to the bunnies as well.  I’m happy that thus far our wee little garden is both pleasing to the eye and completely edible.

nasturtium

Please leave a comment if you’d like to recommend any veggies or herbs that might do well in our little patio planters.  I’m probably going to replace our cilantro and parsley with lettuce plants as soon as the lettuce seedlings I’m growing are a bit bigger, and am open to a few other tweaks here and there.

I hope you have a wonderful week, dear readers.  Until next time…

Warm regards,
Melody

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DIY Patio Railing Planters

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Confession: I’ve had a platonic crush on gardens for some time now.  I love nature, and longed for space to grow things – including veggies.  However, given that I’ve lived in apartments virtually all my life, and that we have our bunnies on our patio during the day, growing veggies wasn’t in the cards.

All that changed with our recent move, though.  We moved in June and I was determined to have SOME sort of garden, even if it was small.  And though I wasn’t able to do a raised bed Square Foot Garden like I’d hoped, we do have a container garden growing on our tiny patio – thanks to my handy hubby.

Hubby made our Patio Railing Planters over the 4th of July weekend, and I snapped some pictures along the way so I could share them with you.  His task wasn’t an easy one, given that we can’t nail or drill into any part of the stucco patio, and had to have everything up off the ground to at least waist height because of the bunnies.  Oh, AND he had to do his work on the patio with limited tools and not disturb the neighbors.  No small feat! (Securing the planters to the building somehow was essential – we don’t want them to fall down from the third floor and hurt anyone below)

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Before:  The patio is 7 feet by 6.5 feet, beige stucco, and had all the charm of a prison.  Awesome, right?! ;]

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The railing is 7″ deep, which meant that the numerous railing planter boxes on the market wouldn’t work for us.  Phooey!

Hubby came up with a great solution though.  Here are some basic instructions and some photos to give you an idea of how the patio railing planters were assembled.

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Materials

3 plastic planter boxes (10″ deep x 10″ high x 24″ wide)
Galvanized bolts, washers & nuts (using galvanized hardware helps fight off rust)
Metal L brackets, that were sprayed to match the building’s paint color
One 4″ x 6′ x 3/4″ piece of wood
Rust-oleum spray paint

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The hardware, wood, and paint…

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Hubby started by putting the wood up on the railing, and marking the spots where the L brackets would be attached.  He alternated – one on the inside, one outside, one inside, one outside.  This first step was part of securing the board onto the patio railing.

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 Next, those marked holes were drilled…

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 Each hole got a bolt, two washers, and a nut.  The “sandwich”/order went bolt, washer, board, washer, nut.

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The bolts were put in from the bottom, so the ends stuck up.  The L brackets were then removed and spray painted…

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Drainage holes were drilled into the bottoms of the planters, and holes were drilled into the boards for the bolts.  This part of the process was to secure the planters to the board, which was already braced/secured onto the railing. 

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When securing the planters to the board, we followed a similar pattern: bolt, washer, wooden board, planter box, washer, nut.  Each planter box is attached at each of its two ends…

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This shows all three empty boxes secured to the board.  

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You can see that the L brackets have been spray painted, and the brackets hold the board securely onto the railing. 

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Our first little plants included rosemary, parsley, mint, lettuce, kale, and cilantro.  I’ve since moved some plants around and added others, but this gives you an idea of what it looked like with some edibles in the planter boxes.  Big thanks to my hubby for figuring out how to overcome our limitations and get our mini garden growing!

Since these pictures were taken we’ve added another board that holds a row of plastic pots (mostly herbs). I’ll share those a little later on, along with photos of how things are progressing.  In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into our fledgling garden.  I also hope you’re enjoying your summer!

Warm regards,
Melody

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Marcelino’s Garden

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In my mind the word “art” encompasses so much more than mediums like drawing and painting.  I think artful endeavors also include things like cooking, working with textiles, making music and so on.  Some of us have green thumbs and bring beauty to the word via plant life.  My father-in-law, Marcelino, is one of those people – gardening is his art.

I’ve been a fan of my father-in-law’s garden since I first started dating my husband nearly 18 years ago.  I’ve enjoyed countless visits to my husband’s childhood home over the years, where his parents still reside, and during each visit I take time to admire my father-in-law’s “living canvas”.  His garden is a bit different each time I visit, and I always enjoy the arrangement, the colors, the scents, and the textures.

He moves some of his plants around, includes a variety of both ornamental and edible plants, and cultivates a playful feeling in his garden.  Chile plants and tomatoes help to nourish loved ones – beauties like roses, calla lilies and geraniums give our eyes something to feast on.  And while the contents of Marcelino’s garden are primarily plants accented with garden sculpture, you may also find a chandelier hanging from an avocado tree or see an old plastic toy lizard left over from my hubby’s childhood glowering menacingly at you from the crook of a tree.  Those whimsical touches are among my favorites.

The photos in this post were taken over Easter weekend.  I used a macro lens on my iPhone to capture these “up close and personal” images of some of the plants that my father-in-law nurtures and tends to.  I hope you enjoy them, and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating Marcelino’s favorite way to make art…

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Tomato plant

amaryllis

Amaryllis

cactus

Cactus

tendril

Passion Flower tendril

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Rosebud

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Tiny orange chile

dandelion

Dandelion

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Seedling

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Chile flower

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Calla lily leaf

I hope you’re all having a great week thus far…

Warm regards,
Melody

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This and That: Spring ’14 Edition

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Greetings, dear readers!  I hope this post finds you well and happy.  How are things in your neck of the woods?  Today’s post is a small collection of odds and ends – some news, and links to things that I’ve been wrapped up in lately.  Here goes…

Art Supply Drive: Big thanks to the six wonderful souls who’ve donated to the art supply drive that I’m wrapping up.  I really appreciate you!  I’ll be able to teach art journaling to one class of 4th graders next school year.  Thank you for your generosity and kindness.  :]  If you intend to donate but forgot, and would still like to, you may do so quickly, easily, and securely HERE.

Spring Cleaning Fever: Have you ever heard of 40 Bags in 40 Days?  It’s a challenge that folks take part in to pare down their belongings and reduce clutter, by “filling up” 40 bags with belongings in 40 days.  I decided to participate by going through and purging in 40 different “spots” here at home.  Spots included the clothes closet, dresser drawers, bookshelves, the garage, my art supply storage, etc.  I was aggressive with what I decided to get rid of, and probably cleared out about three small truckloads of items – most were donated.  It feels great to have passed along things we’re not using so that someone else can benefit from them.  And it will be less for us to move, too!

Minimalism & Tiny Houses: Along with the purge came some research into minimalism, Tiny Houses, and full-time RV living.  I’m not sure we’ll ever get all the way to any of those things, but the idea of simplifying and reducing overhead in order to spend more time enjoying life sounds really good, so we’re taking baby steps in that direction.

This Girl Needs a Garden: I’ve been longing for a garden for the longest time – but apartment living makes that a challenge.  Enter Square Foot Gardening, which was brought into being by Mel Bartholomew.  I recently purchased his book, and am hoping that our next apartment home has a patio that will accommodate some raised bed planters (with both space and the sunlight needed) so I can give this gardening method a try.  Here are the rings I’d like to grow in my first 16 or so “squares”: carrots, parsley, cilantro, kale, lettuce, red bell peppers, chile peppers, onions, garlic, cucumbers, tomatoes, green beans, spinach, zucchini, arugala, and strawberries.  Have any of you tried Square Foot Gardening?  How did it go?

A Crafty & Cool Conference:  I recently attended Craftcation in Ventura, CA.  Craftcation is a conference for creative folks and small business owners – it combines business classes and hands-on classes for crafters and foodies.  I had a wonderful time and learned so much!  I took several classes, including a class for Etsy sellers and hands-on classes on image transfers and reverse appliqué.  The teacher of my image transfers class has a fab book out if you’d like to check it out – Playing with Image Transfers by Courtney Cerruti.

That’s all for now.  I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Warm regards,
Melody

*Please note: The links above are just for your reference – they won’t generate income for me.  :]

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The Gardener’s Apprentice: Braiding Daffodils

daffodils

I want a garden.  Bad.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived in apartments virtually all of my life.  I just love the idea of helping things to grow, and at this point I’m seriously craving some land to grow fruits, veggies, and flowers on.  The problem?  The staggering real estate costs here in Southern California.  I’ve lived in California all my life, but can’t afford property here.  (sigh)  We currently live in an apartment and our small (third story) patio is the daytime play area for our rabbits.  What’s a girl wanting to work in a garden to do?  Borrow someone else’s!

I’ve dubbed myself the Gardener’s Apprentice
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I found a listing on Craigslist that is helping me get my garden fix without having property myself.  A nice woman who lives about 20 minutes away has a large front and back yard, planted with both flowers and edibles.  She even has a small flock of seven chickens – something else I hope to have some day.  For her privacy, I’ll refer to this nice gardening lady as C.

C was in search of someone to help her with her yard – what luck for us both!  In exchange for helping her out, I’ll get to learn from an experienced gardener and plant enthusiast.  I’ll also reap some tangible rewards – goodies of C’s choosing that will come from her yard and/or chickens.

Starting Out
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I met C for the first time last week, and we started with a tour of the property.  I got to meet her hubby, two darling doggies, and the chickens (no rooster).  We got to work that very day!  We worked in a small section on the front edge of her yard.  While many of the plants in that section are flourishing and blooming, some bulbs were spent – like the daffodils and freesias.

The daffodil leaves are still green, but they’re laying flat and were a bit of a mess. Rather than cut the leaves back now, like we did with the freesias, C had me braid the stems of the daffodils.  (See photo at top) This way the leaves are tidy and out of the way while the bulb stores a bit more of their plant-y goodness in preparation for next year’s bloom.  Once the greens are dried out the braids can be cut off quickly and easily.

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We also dug up several small freesia bulbs that had multiplied and were taking over.  They were crowding out mini roses and other plants, so C and I used a trowel to loosen the dirt before digging through with our gloved fingers.  Geez – there were dozens!  We also pulled out some grasses and weeds that didn’t belong, and when we stopped working the section looked much tidier.  C let me take some of the bulbs we pulled out for my father-in-law.  He has quite a green thumb.
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chickens

She also gave me some Aztec Lily bulbs and six fresh eggs her chickens had laid.  Lucky me!  The eggs were beautiful, in a range of colors and sizes.  The egg yolks are much bigger and are a much deeper golden yellow than store bought eggs – even when compared to cage-free eggs.  The eggs were scrumptious, and I’m definitely a fan of C’s flock.  :]

eggs

My Second Visit
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We focused on the front yard again during my second visit.  We started by trimming and thinning a thicket of wisteria that grows in a planter that divides C’s driveway from the property next door.  Sweet Pea vines also grow in the thicket, but we just wove those lovelies back into the mix.

The rest of our time was spent pulling the dried leaves off of bulb-based plants.  The plants in question surround two small trees that live in two earthen squares on their front sidewalk.  Day lilies reside in each of the four corners of the planters, and “Naked Ladies” fill in the rest.  These “Naked Lady” plants belonged to C’s grandmother back in the day, and have been transplanted onto her property.  I think that’s so sweet. I love the idea of plants being shared by multiple generations.  The plant blooms in July with no leaves on it – just the “naked” flower stem.  Thus the name…

bouquet

My special treat for helping C that day was a gorgeous bouquet of flowers that she cut fresh from her yard. The bouquet contains several types of roses (at least six different varieties), calla lilies, and Peruvian lilies. The photo below is a closeup of the bouquet taken a day after I brought it home.  The gorgeous red and white rose is known as a Betty Boop!

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Thinking Outside of the Box
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I still want a garden and chickens of my own, but am so glad I’ve met C and get to spend some time learning and helping her.  My next “gardening appointment” is set for Thursday, and I’ll happily be putting on sunblock, a wide-brimmed hat, and some gardening gloves – ready to learn by doing.

I have no idea how long my “garden apprenticeship” last.  I do know that while this arrangement is just scratching the surface in terms of what I’d like to learn and do, it is a start.  I’m glad I thought outside of the box instead of just moping about what I don’t have.  Taking chances and trying something – anything – can lead you to something unexpectedly wonderful.  Like braiding daffodils…

Warm regards,
Melody

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